Legendary spinner Graeme Swann believes this England side can end India’s 12 years of dominance on home soil.
England begin their highly-anticipated tour of India with the first of five Tests on Thursday – live on talkSPORT 2.
Swann was part of the team which inflicted India’s last defeat in a Test series at home – and it was way back in 2012.
Forming a lethal spin attack with Monty Panesar, Swann finished as joint-leading wicket-taker and inspired England to their first victory in India for 28 years.
No nation has manged to repeat those heroics in the 12 years which have followed – but Swann believes Ben Stokes’ men could be the ones to make history.
Reflecting on his famous trip to India in 2012, a typically-sarcastic Swann told talkSPORT: “They’ll make it very hard for us because, basically, why wouldn’t you? If you’ve got your home conditions, make them for your home team.
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“They did that to us in 2012, I think they actually underestimated us in 2012 and thought well we’ll just do any old wicket that spins and their spinners are rubbish and their batsmen are rubbish.
“But then we scored loads of runs, and then me and Monty turned out to be the best two spinners in the world, so that was alright.”
In all seriousness, though, Swann knows better than anyone that India away is the hardest assignment in all of cricket.
Besides a supremely talented and complete Test side, India also boast the most fanatical supporters in world cricket – and dry conditions make them almost impossible to beat.
“Yeah I think it is [the toughest job in cricket],” the 44-year-old added.
“Imagine when you turn up, it is literally two billion people against you and desperate for their home team to do well and you really feel that.
“You’re stuck in the hotel most of the time and it can get on top of you. It’s a lot easier than it used to be because obviously Indian hotels are now amazing, but yeah it is a tough place.
“I’d say Australia is probably just as tough because you get called no end of things on the boundary over there. Words you’ve never heard. It’s a playground sort of thing and it’s not quite like that in India. But it is a very tricky place to come and win a game of cricket.”
England boast their own unbeaten record, failing to lose a Test series since Brendon McCullum and Stokes took the reins in 2022.
Many point towards their spin attack as a weakness, but Swann believes ‘Bazball’ can succeed in India.
He continued: “I think it’s going to be tough, I won’t lie to you, but if anyone’s going to do it, this England team can with their way of playing this ‘Bazball’ cricket.
“If they get out there and just take the Indians by surprise and smash a victory early doors, and then somehow batten down the hatches and play on absolutely raging Bunsen Burners, square-turning wickets for the rest of the trip, they could sneak a win.
“It’s not going to be easy, it really isn’t.”
India have their own weaknesses, particularly the loss of talismanic batter Virat Kohli, who will miss the first two Tests due to personal reasons.
Swann believes this could give England a glimmer of hope and described the impact of Kohli in a way only he could…
“Put it this way, if he was a Rangers player, he’d be Ally McCoist. That’s how big he is.”
And when pressed for a prediction on the series by McCoist himself, a tongue-in-cheek Swann put his neck on the line.
He said: “The best England team ever won in there in 2012 but that was my team and so basically moving forward we’ll have to wait and see if these young pups can live up to their heroes.
“I’m going 3-2 to England, they don’t do draws anymore. That’s an old-fashioned thing. So 3-2 to England, a famous victory.”
Find out how England get on with every ball live on talkSPORT 2, starting with the first Test at 4am on Thursday!